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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Warmth of Coastal Friends

We might be surrounded by water here on the coast, but there are plenty of nice people also around us. One of the first things that people ask when considering the Crystal Coast is whether or not people here are friendly to outsiders. Sometimes it is hard to control my smile when I am asked that question in person. I run into lots of people here on the coast, and it is a safe bet that most of them were not born here in Carteret County. Most people are outsiders who have become insiders. The really neat thing about this area is that the people who seem to be attracted to the area are a very friendly group of folks who always seem to be excited when someone new makes the decision to move to our spot in paradise. I have lived in areas where some people were very serious about being the last people to move into that special place on earth. Fortunately those folks have not found Carteret County.
I do have one friend who was born here in Carteret County. He is a great guy and certainly is as nice or nicer than the people who have moved into the area. He is just out numbered by all the outsiders who have moved here.

I like to tell the story about when we first bought our home in Bluewater Cove. We were still moving items from our Roanoke, Virginia home. Our new yard of centipede grass was starting to grow, and I knew the yard was going to need mowing before we could get back to the coast with a mower. We made arrangements with a lawn company to handle the job.

It was only a day or two before we got a call from the yard people asking if we had changed our mind and mowed the yard ourselves. I thanked them but told them I had no idea who had mowed the yard. I called our real estate agent and asked if he knew what had happened. I thought perhaps the guy mowing the edges of the streets in the subdivision might have taken pity on us. Our real estate agent said that was not the case, and he also was mystified by our neatly mowed yard.

It was only through this process of elimination that I finally figured out that my next door neighbor was taking care of our yard. We have a pretty good sized yard, so I was amazed at his kindness. While the yard mowing might be an exceptional example, I have found people here to be very friendly and helpful.

The past Saturday we helped take down Christmas decorations with some church members at our local church. It was actually a lot of fun and hardly made a dent in our Saturday morning. I still managed to get out on the river with our skiff for a few minutes that morning. Sunday at church I was amazed at how many people who were not in the Saturday morning group ended up thanking us for helping. It is always nice to work with appreciative people.

I have really enjoyed taking part in some of the community events like the Swansboro Oyster Roast which takes place on a weekend close to Saint Patrick's Day. It is the same Saturday of Emerald Isle's Saint Patrick's Day Festival. Between the two events, there is a pretty good chance to see just about everyone in the area. When you get into a tightly packed environment like the one around tables full of steaming oysters, you get a very good look at the kind of people who have joined you at the table.

I will never forget my first Oyster Roast. An old gentleman who had driven two hours to come back to his home place took the time to show me all the tricks of shucking an oyster. He also gave me some great oyster eating advice that I pass on to friends who have discovered this wonderful event. That advice is to stop eating oysters just at that point when you feel like you could eat just one more. That advice has helped me leave the Oyster Roast feeling great.

We often walk the local beaches and manage to meet some of the nicest people. My wife and I are dog magnets, and stopping to say hello to some friendly dogs often opens an opportunity for a conversation. We have yet to run into anyone rude or unfriendly.

I am also amazed at how mellow our shop keepers can stay even during the busy time in the summer. Maybe it is the summer breezes or the warm sun on the beach that keeps us all so happy. I have not figured out the secret, but I am enjoying not only the great beaches and fantastic weather but also the friendly people of the Crystal Coast.

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